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Construction Firms Seek More Workers from Abroad

Posted: September 9th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Employer & Student Visas, Immigration Reform, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Facing an acute labor shortage, big firms are lobbying to lift caps on foreign construction workers.


A national survey of construction firms found 74 percent were having problems finding qualified workers amid growing labor shortages in the industry.

The survey by Associated General Contractors of America comes as similar concerns have been raised among builders in Southwest Florida, with the new homes market ramping up and a tight inventory of existing homes.

In the Sunshine State, 80 percent of respondents told the AGC that they were having trouble filling key construction jobs.  Carpenters, laborers and iron workers were the most sought after positions.  The AGC said that builders nationwide are concerned that the problem is going to get worse.  “We need to take short- and long-term steps to make sure there are enough workers to meet future demand and avoid the costly construction delays that would come with labor shortages,” said Stephen Sandherr, the trade organization’s chief executive.
Some of the survey’s findings:
  • Seventy-four percent of the 700 responding firms nationwide said the jobs that were most difficult to fill were carpenters, equipment operators and laborers.
  • Fifty-three percent said they were also having a difficult time finding project supervisors, estimators and engineers.
  • Eighty-six percent of respondents said they expect it will remain difficult or get harder to find qualified craft workers while 72 percent say the market for professional positions will remain difficult or get worse.

To deal with the situation, 48 percent of responding firms said they are mentoring future craft workers while 38 percent are participating in career fairs and 33 percent are supporting high school-level construction skills academies.

Forty-seven percent said they are offering internships for construction professionals.

Looking to veterans

There was a 70 percent uptick in new home construction activity in Sarasota and Manatee counties this summer, but the industry is now running 50 percent below its employment peak in 2006, state records show.

As of July, construction accounted for 15,100 jobs in the two counties.

Area home builders have found at least one potential answer to the shortage: Military veterans.

The Home Builders Association Manatee-Sarasota and Suncoast Workforce, an entity that operates three Jobs Etc. employment center in the region, have crafted a pilot program aimed at alleviating the problem and providing jobs for vets, who sometimes struggle with unemployment.

Florida has an estimated 744,000 veterans in its labor force. Suncoast Workforce, meanwhile, has seen the number of veterans seeking help in Sarasota and Manatee counties rise 40 percent over the last two years, with about 1,900 now in the system looking for work.

New incentives provided by Congress in late 2011 could help homebuilders hire more vets. The IRS-guided VOW Hire Heroes Act extends tax breaks of $2,400 to employers who hire a veteran who has been jobless for a month, $5,600 for those unemployed at least six months and $9,600 for veterans who have been out of work six months or more and have a service-related disability.

The incentives can increase if the vet is also receiving some type of government assistance.

If builders have to train the new hires, the federal government also will help pick up the tab, paying half of the trainees’ paycheck for up to six months.


To deal with the issue at a national level, Sandherr, the AGC chief executive, is urging Congress to “jettison arbitrary caps” on construction workers that were included in immigration reform the U.S. Senate passed this year.

“Lifting those restrictions will go a long way to ensuring construction jobs left vacant by domestic labor shortages go to workers who are in the country legally,” he said.

The CEO also is urging local officials to “do more to ensure public school students have an opportunity to participate in programs that teach skills like construction.”

His organization’s survey, conducted in July and August, included nearly 700 construction firms, including Florida.

Immigration Reform Means Economic Growth

Posted: May 6th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Employer & Student Visas, Investor Visas, National News, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

Hidden Provisions of Senate Immigration Proposal Could Benefit Sarasota-Bradenton


Sarasota, FL – Much of the recent discussion about immigration reform has centered on enforcement and legalization of undocumented aliens, but hidden in the Senate immigration bill are a number of proposals that could benefit the Sarasota-Bradenton area, including extended visitors visas for Canadians, a Retiree Visa, a short term visa for foreign executives and managers of companies with operations in the U.S. and a temporary visa and green card category for entrepreneurs.

Canadian Retirees (Sec. 4503)

The bill would allow Canadian retirees to visit the US for up to 240 days.  They would have to be Canadian citizens, be at least 55 years old, maintain residence in Canada, and have purchased or signed a rental agreement for a property in the United States worth $250,000 or more.

Retiree Visa (Sec. 4504)

The bill would allow foreigners who purchase $500,000 or more worth of property, maintain ownership property, reside for more than 6 months/year in the US, and who are at least 55 years old to apply for a visa.

Executives and Managers (Sec. 4603)

The bill would create a temporary 90-day visa for executives and managers to travel to the US to oversee operations of their related companies.  It would also create a 180-day visa for employees of multinational companies to come to the US to oversee operations of their related companies here.

Start-up Visas (Sec. 4802)

The bill would create a temporary start-up visa for foreign entrepreneurs who have obtained $100,000 or more from outside investors for their company and have hired 3 or more American workers.  It would also create a permanent start-up visa for entrepreneurs who founded, are employed as a senior executive at, and own a significant portion of a US business.  The business would have to have created at least 5 jobs and received $500,000 in venture capital or created 5 jobs and generated $750,000 in revenues within the US in the previous 2 years.

H-1B Visa Reform (Sec. 4101)

The bill would raise the cap on H-1B visas from 65,000 to 110,000 with the possibility of increasing it to 180,000.  The number of H-1B visas available would be partially dependent on a formula that would factor in the strength of the economy in a given year and determine the number of foreign workers to be admitted accordingly.


It is important to note that the Senate bill is not the final word on immigration reform.  It must still go through the legislative process, which could cause it to be changed significantly.  Then, it must past the Senate.  At the same time, an immigration bill must also pass the House of Representatives and the two bills must be reconciled.  Supporters of these proposals should email Senator Marco Rubio ( and Senator Bill Nelson ( to express their views and preserve these provisions.  To read the full text of the bill as it stands please visit

About Jaensch Immigration Law Firm: The law firm was established in Sarasota in 1984 and provides a wide range of immigration legal services to students, investors, entrepreneurs, professional and skilled workers, athletes, coaches, aliens with extraordinary and exceptional credentials and more.  The law firm is comprised of five immigration lawyers, Peter J. Jaensch, P. Christopher Jaensch, Victoria Jaensch Karins, and Kevin Runyan.  The main website of Jaensch Immigration Law Firm is  For more information contact marketing coordinator, Michael Marquet, at 941-366-9841 or send email to